We are right in the middle of Conference play for all the major conferences. There’s only about a month for teams to improve their body of work and prepare for the NCAA Tournament. There’s always a healthy debate about which conference is the best from top to bottom. Here’s a look at my rankings based on the deepest conferences from top to bottom as it stands in early February 2012.
Top Six College Basketball Conferences 6. Mountain West- It looks strange to have this conference on the list, but they do deserve the recognition. UNLV has beaten North Carolina and Illinois already this year. San Diego State is once again a very tough team. Steve Alford’s New Mexico team is flying under the radar, but they could be a Sweet Sixteen sleeper. The bottom of the conference has gotten much better over the past couple years as well.
5. ACC- North Carolina hasn’t played up to its potential yet this year, but the Tar Heels are still one of my favorites to win it this season. Duke is a solid team, but I don’t think they have as much potential. The teams that have surprised me have been Florida State and Virginia. Florida State’s athleticism and great defense makes them a very tough matchup. Virginia’s control of the style of the game makes them a tough team to put away. The ACC would be higher if the bottom of the conference weren’t so weak.
4. SEC- Kentucky may well be the best team in the country, but the rest of the league isn’t on par with the best in the nation. Florida is extremely talented, but their youth could hold them back in March. Vanderbilt is a very athletic team, but they seem to find a way to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament every year. Mississippi State has a lot of potential, but they have yet to put it all together. Alabama has been disappointing so far this year.
3. Big 12- The top of the Big 12 is as strong as any league in the land. Missouri, Kansas, and Baylor are all three top ten teams. The middle of the conference isn’t bad with teams like Kansas State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma all putting together a pretty good year. The problem here is that the bottom of the conference is weak. Texas A&M has been a big disappointment so far this year, and Texas Tech is one of the worst major college programs in the country right now.
2. Big East- The Big East couldn’t quite keep the top spot on the list, but this is a very good basketball conference. Syracuse is the top dog in this conference, but there are plenty of teams capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Georgetown is better than most expected, and so are the Marquette Golden Eagles. In the middle of the conference standings you’ll find dangerous teams like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and West Virginia. The Big East will be dangerous in March.
1. Big Ten- Some people don’t like to watch Big Ten basketball, but this is the deepest conference in the land right now. Ohio State is a legitimate national title threat. Michigan State is much better than last year. Indiana has improved a ton from last year, and they could do some damage in March. Wisconsin isn’t a lot of fun to watch if you like offense, but who wants to play this team in March? The middle of the conference has very solid teams like Illinois, Michigan, and Purdue. They might not have the most teams that could get to the Final Four, but this is the deepest conference in college basketball.